COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State head coach Ryan Day today announced the addition of two key defensive coaches to his staff:
- Tim Walton, a former Buckeye cornerback who has 25 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and NFL levels, is returning to Ohio State to serve as the Buckeyes’ secondary coach/cornerbacks coach; and
- Perry Eliano, cornerbacks coach the past two seasons for one of the nation’s outstanding secondary units at the University of Cincinnati, has been named Ohio State’s safeties coach.
Tim Walton: “He cared about us off the field. … He was always there for us.”
Walton comes back to Ohio State after having spent the last 11 seasons in the National Football League. For the past three years, from 2019 through 2021, he was the cornerbacks coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This past season, the Jaguars ranked ninth in the league in fewest touchdown passes allowed (24) and 17th in fewest passing yards allowed (3,875).
Walton coached two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, now with the Los Angeles Rams, while with the Jaguars.
“Coach Walton … he’s probably one of the best DB coaches, if not the best DB coach, I’ve ever had in my life,” Ramsey said in an ESPN interview after being traded to the Rams. “He was really good. He was not only a good coach … coached us super hard … and made sure we were on our technique. But he was a good person as well. He cared about us off the field. Cared about battles we may be fighting off the field. He was always there for us. It was important, and it meant a lot that he was always trying to understand. He was really thorough in everything. He made sure he knew us individually as a player and as a person.”
Day is pleased to have Walton returning to Ohio State.
“We’re very excited to welcome Tim and his family back to Ohio State,” Day said. “As a former Buckeye captain, he comes here with a deep appreciation for how special this place is. And, his experience at both the collegiate and NFL levels make him someone who is uniquely qualified to develop the back end of our defense.”
From 2015-17, Walton served as the secondary/cornerbacks coach with the New York Giants. There, he mentored two cornerbacks who went on to earn Pro Bowl honors: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in 2015 and 2016 along with Janoris Jenkins in 2016. Walton’s 2016 secondary ranked second in the NFL in opposing quarterback rating (75.8) and third in completion percentage (58.6). In 2015, Rodgers-Cromartie became the first Giants cornerback to play in the Pro Bowl in 31 years, or since Mark Haynes did so in 1984.
In 2013, Walton was hired by Jeff Fisher to be the St. Louis Rams’ defensive coordinator. He oversaw a unit that totaled 53.0 sacks, third best in the league, and allowed just 102.9 yards per game rushing, which ranked ninth.
Walton got his start in the NFL under Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz when he was hired as the Lions’ secondary coach in 2009. While in Detroit, the Lions led the NFL with seven defensive touchdowns during the 2011 season.
Prior to his time in the NFL, Walton spent 14 years as a college coach, highlighted by defensive coordinator assignments at Memphis in 2008 and Miami (Fla.) in 2007. Walton spent a total of four seasons at Miami (2004-07), coaching the defensive backs from 2004-06 before taking on the defensive coordinator role in 2007. His unit that season ranked 33rd nationally in total defense. Walton coached three All-Americans and two freshman All-Americans during his time at Miami.
In 2003, Walton coached defensive backs at LSU, helping the Tigers win both the SEC title and BCS National Championship. He also spent one year at Syracuse (2002) and two at Memphis (2000-01) prior to that. Walton began his coaching career at Bowling Green State University where he coached on both sides of the ball, mentoring running backs from 1996-98 and defensive backs in 1999. He was a graduate assistant for the Falcons in 1995.
Walton was a four-year letterwinner with the Buckeyes and a member of the 1993 Big Ten champion team coached by John Cooper. He played in 41 games and totaled 159 tackles, 10 interceptions and 11 pass breakups. Walton was a member of teams that played in the Liberty, Hall of Fame, Citrus and Holiday bowls. He earned his degree in sociology in 1994.
Walton, who is from Columbus, Ga., and his wife, Tracy, have three children: Trei, Timia and Tyler.
Perry Eliano: Oversaw outstanding defensive backfield at Cincinnati the last two years
Eliano, a native of Kileen, Texas, and a 2000 graduate of Stephen F. Austin with a master’s degree from his alma mater in 2003, was a key part of two outstanding defenses at Cincinnati.
Cincinnati, a College Football Playoffs semifinalist, had the nation’s best pass defense in 2021. The Bearcats finished No. 1 nationally in pass efficiency defense (103.36), No. 2 in passing yards allowed (169.2), No. 3 in interceptions (19) and No. 4 in opponent completion pct. (53.9).
Eliano’s starting cornerbacks this past season – Coby Bryant and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner – were the most decorated cornerback tandem in the nation, with Bryant winning the Thorpe Award as the nation’s outstanding defensive back and Gardner earning first-team All-America honors.
“Perry’s work the last two years at Cincinnati speaks for itself,” Day said. “He has developed great players and has been a huge part of the Bearcats’ success. He has 15 years of collegiate experience coaching either safeties or cornerbacks and that was the kind of experience we were looking for. I look forward to welcoming Perry and his family to Ohio State University.”
In Eliano’s first season at Cincinnati in 2020, the Bearcats had national Top 15 rankings in five defensive categories, including tied for No. 3 in both interceptions (16) and in passing efficiency defense (101.26). The Bearcats led the American Athletic Conference (AAC) in both interceptions and passes defended (55) that season.
Gardner was a first-team All-American in 2020 and Bryant led the AAC in interceptions with four and in passes defended with 11.
Eliano comes to Ohio State with 21 years of collegiate coaching experience, including two seasons as a defensive coordinator (in 2016 and 2017 at Bowling Green State University, in addition to his 15 years as a safeties or cornerbacks coach.
Eliano arrived at UC after a two-year stint as the special team’s coordinator and cornerbacks coach at New Mexico. In 2018, two of Eliano’s starting corners – Jalin Burrell and D’Angelo Ross – moved on to the NFL after solid seasons.
Prior to Eliano’s two years at BGSU, where he was the Falcons’ associate head coach as well as defensive coordinator, he spent five seasons at the University of Texas-San Antonio, starting with its inaugural season in 2011 through the 2015 season. He coached safeties and was the team’s special team’s coordinator. Overall, he coached eight all-conference players, including safety Triston Wade, who was UTSA’s first Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist and would sign with the Seattle Seahawks.
Eliano was an assistant at Central Arkansas from 2006-10. He coached defensive backs throughout his tenure and was named associate head coach prior to his final season.
Eliano coached the 2005 season as Sam Houston State’s secondary coach after an earlier two-season stint at Central Arkansas as the running backs and wide receivers coach. Eliano coached wide receiver Mike Norvell at Central Arkansas, who was recently hired as Florida State’s head coach after a successful run at Memphis.
A Killeen, Texas native, Eliano got his coaching start as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Stephen F. Austin, from 2001-02. Eliano played safety for the Lumberjacks from 1996-99 and was the team’s Defensive Most Valuable Player and leading tackler in both 1998 and ‘99. He helped the Lumberjacks to the Southland Championship and was named all-conference following his senior season. He also was named the Ralph Todd Award (University’s outstanding male athlete) winner the following spring.
A standout prep defensive back, Eliano was a three-year letterwinner at Ellison High School from 1993-95. He earned all-state honors following his senior season after helping the Eagles reach the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
Eliano earned his bachelor’s degree from Stephen F. Austin in 2000 and a master’s in secondary education three years later. He and his wife, Regenia, have two sons, Amari and Evan.
COURTESY OSU ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS